Wednesday, 10 December 2014
I'm in Callander. I love Callander. It is a small place and one where I feel welcome and at ease. Thanks, of course, to friends I have here. The plan was to return home on Wednesday but things have not turned out well for travelling in the Western Highlands this week. Ferries have almost all been cancelled on the West Coast of Scotland today as storm force winds and heavy seas batter the north-west of the country. This morning at 6.25 I woke to a thunderstorm which appears to have knocked out the Vodafone cellphone network (although I'm told that Vodafone is exceptionally unreliable in this area anyway) and twelve hours later I still have no cellphone. Fortunately I went into Stirling today and was able to catch up with people whom I needed - yes, it a need - to contact.
Calmac (the ferry operator) would not change my booking from this evening to a ferry tomorrow because they say the whole situation is too uncertain to take new bookings. Given that many of us returning to the Islands will be the best part of a day's journey (through uncertain road conditions) from the mainland ferry terminals of Uig and Ullapool not even knowing if there is space on the ferry if we turn up is an irritation. So tomorrow I shall have to take a gamble and set out for one of the ports and hope that I can get home. There is no Met Office warning for severe weather on Friday but the windspeeds at Stornoway at the ferry times on Friday are worse than they are for tomorrow.
So it's been a couple of days of mixed weather and emotions. The weather has ranged from cold, icy conditions to storms with some of the worst seas I've known on the West Coast and I've had most of a day without a cellphone signal. On the plus side I've had a good time with friends, I've acquired a Philip Raskin and I've managed to get a few Christmas presents sorted.